Thursday, 25 August 2016

PAPMAP part three: Sallie, or ARGH


I'll start off by saying that I really like this. I added an inch or so to the length of the bodice and I much prefer it that way. The trousers are made of bamboo jersey, which I've never used before but is amazingly soft and comfortable, and having a different fabric on top means that this one is going to be a bit more versatile than my first Sallie. I've already worn it a lot.

However, it took me several screw-ups to get here.

My original plan was to make trousers from this bamboo jersey and use a monochrome floral print jersey for the top. I started making that, and it went entirely wrong in all the ways it could have. The lining wouldn't fit inside the top properly, I managed to sew the ties on backwards, the neckline went funny, and I couldn't unpick it successfully because the elastic wasn't having it. I got very annoyed, went out to buy something similar, couldn't find it, and bought this blue Art Gallery knit instead.

The top went together fine the second time, and the trousers also made up OK. But then the time came to attach one to the other, and AAAAGGGHHH. First I sewed the elastic channel the wrong width, then I redid the whole thing and realised at the end that I'd attached the top back to front. When I sewed it together for a third time, the seam allowances were off and it was really difficult to get enough fabric to actually sew the channel shut. Then I hemmed the trouser legs and the thread kept separating and snapping. It took ages. I had to picture a calm blue ocean.

But it is done. It is done, and it is wearable. Much as this was a pain in the bum, I am totally sold on the whole jumpsuit thing. I think I'm about done for summer sewing, but I'd quite like to make an eveningwear jumpsuit (possibly not this pattern) at some point in the nearish future.

To mark the final set of photos ever taken in my old garden (two days til we finally move in to our shiny new flat!), a dance party. Because what else are you going to do in a jumpsuit.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Centauree, or my Patrick dress

Some time last year I had the idea to do a series of "inspiration" posts. At the time I was making a lot of things that weren't quite right and didn't get worn, and I thought it might help me focus a bit and get me making more interesting things. What I actually did was think of a few ideas and then get hugely overwhelmed by the whole thing, so it never ended up happening. However, now that nearly a year has passed, I think I'm in a much better place to give it a try. I'm not sure exactly what form this series is going to take yet, but we shall see.

My first chosen subject is Patrick, my boyfriend. This was the first idea I had, and bits of this post were actually written as far back as last September. If I may direct your attention to this photo, taken about six weeks before I made my first skirt:

This is a paisley button-up shirt that Dorothy Perkins was selling last spring. I took the photo to send to my boyfriend, thinking it was hilarious that a women's clothing shop would have taken him on as a fashion icon, and I carried on thinking it was hilarious until every single women's clothing shop was overrun by button-up shirts and ridiculous paisley prints, and then I decided to hasten my plans to learn dressmaking because otherwise I wouldn't be able to find anything to wear.

Patrick has an extremely specific sense of personal style which resembles mine not the tiniest bit, so it's rather a big ask for a first go at this. Yet in a strange kind of way it does feel like an appropriate thing to do. This is a man who cares a hell of a lot more about his clothes than I've done for the last few years, and any hints of my turning into a shoe person are his fault entirely. I ask for and trust his opinions on what I buy or wear, and if he secretly finds it tiresome then he's a phenomenal actor who really ought to think about branching out his skills further. I've also come to know his style pretty damn well, so it's a fairly solid base to take inspiration from.

My first thought was "floofy-skirted dress in Liberty print", because he loves both those things, but a floofy-skirted Liberty print dress with a delicate pink floral on a white background (which is his preferred style of Liberty print) is exactly the sort of thing that would summon the wrath of Teen Goth Jen and I'd have to spend a year making a massive leather coat to get her to shut up again.

I rethought and came up with these criteria:

1. I will make the dress in a Liberty print
2. The Liberty print does not have to be one that Patrick would wear
3. The silhouette will be one I feel comfortable in
4. The dress will have various small details, either from the pattern as drafted or added by me

A month or so ago, long after I first came up with the above, I was on the Liberty website and saw a fabric I really liked in the sale. Patrick, who is a horrendous enabler and also really quite into the idea of me making Patrick-inspired dresses, bought me two metres of it as an anniversary present, and I decided to use it for my first attempt.

Once I had the fabric, it didn't take me long to choose the Deer and Doe Centauree dress as the right one for the project. The six-panel bodice was interesting and something I hadn't seen before, and the skirt seemed like a good compromise between Patrick's love of floof and my aversion to it.

And here it is!

I made a toile of the bodice first, which was fine aside from being slightly too baggy at the back, so I cut the back piece a size smaller for my Liberty fabric. The bodice looks like the most complicated bit, but I actually really enjoyed sewing it up and was even quite pleased I got to do it twice (well, three times, really, since I French seamed this dress). Actually, in terms of the sewing process alone, this is probably my favourite project ever. I felt like I was learning a lot, but I was learning it through things actually WORKING rather than going repeatedly and frustratingly wrong. I loved making this dress.

In terms of Patrick-style details, I French seamed the whole thing so it's fancy on the inside too, used two different colours for the double straps (I was originally just going to use the lemon until I realised that would make it really obvious that I was still wearing my normal bra underneath. I am wearing a strapless bra here for the purpose of actually showing the design details but I will never do that when I wear it on a regular day, because fuck complicated underwear arrangements for breezy summer dresses), and put in a sky blue invisible zip at the side. Secret colour!

The straps are made of bias binding, and again I loved doing it. I like bias binding anyway, but when they explained how to make the neat point in the middle of the neckline I started bouncing up and down in front of my sewing machine like the nerd that I am. Tricks! I LOVE tricks!

The print on the back is upside down because I forgot the fabric was directional and didn't have enough to recut. Eh. It's on the back, I'm not going to see it, if strangers in the street really want to bitch about it then they can. (Also, I am inexplicably wonky in this photo. I apologise.)

In terms of the end product, I will wear this a lot on hot days. There's definitely a huge gap in my wardrobe for light dresses in breathable fabrics, and this is both comfy and presentable. Were I to make this again (and I will), I would want to lower the waist a tiny bit, or add a waistband, and probably swap out the skirt as it's a bit too much floof for me. My toile gave me a potentially good idea, and I'd like to make a white and navy version with another skirt I like - either Butterick 4443, the Anna midi skirt, or the tulip skirt, which I haven't tried putting on a dress yet. But honestly, it's almost immaterial how it turns out. This dress was a joy to sew, and I'd be making more even if I didn't actually like it that much.

(I thought this was another smugface photo until I put it in the post and realised I just look super uncomfortable. Whoops.)

Thursday, 11 August 2016

SSSHH bonus: a wedding guest dress, part two

So, this is the dress I was expecting to show you the first time:

This is a straight-up midi length Anna made from a viscose challis. I saw it in a recommended fabrics list for some indie pattern or other and bought two and a half metres of it immediately, even though I had no idea what I was going to do with it and really don't like buying fabric online without having seen it in person first. I wanted my very own rainbow dress, dammit.

Initially construction was as straightforward as it usually is. I've got the size and FBA of my Anna bodice to the place I like them, so I just cut it out and whipped it together. The one difference is that I made bias binding for the neckline out of remnants of the fabric, since I didn't think cotton bias would work visually or structurally. I think it's come out basically OK, but it was a complete bitch to do and I hated it all, from the making of the bias tape to sewing it on, and I normally quite like sewing bias tape. I'm in no rush to do this again, put it that way.

I had the dress finished weeks before the wedding I went to in June, but as I said in that post, it managed to distort itself very strangely and I didn't want to risk trying to fix something I didn't know could be fixed. When I decided to wear it to the July wedding instead, the pressure was off a bit more - if it didn't work, I could just wear the blue one again. There was zero overlap between the guests at both weddings, so nobody would ever know.

The main problem with the dress was that there was suddenly a ton of excess fabric at the back, which was standing up away from my shoulder blades and making me look as though I had a severe hunch. I took that out the simplest way I could think of - taking the whole dress up at the shoulders. I took out maybe an inch, which has solved most of the problems with the back. Ideally I would have taken it in at an angle so the neckline could have stayed the same, but I couldn't work out a way to do that without taking off and redoing my bias binding, and given what a pain in the backside this self-made bias tape was, I was not going to be doing that if I could help it. So I just dealt with the slight neckline change, which doesn't bother me too much.

For the wedding I wore this dress with the same feather explosion hat as last time and nude shoes, which I am not putting on again for these photos because they're still not broken in properly and haven't adjusted to my weird-shaped feet yet. I waited more than ten hours for the disco and then couldn't dance for very long because the bones below my little toes were screaming. I hear that some people can just put on whatever pair of shoes they like and walk around without their feet cursing them into oblivion. I envy those people. My feet suck.

I'm glad I was able to fix this. Like my other wedding guest dress, this one will be a good all-purpose occasion dress, bringing my total number of occasion dresses to two. I don't want to get too carried away with making things like this, but we do go to a fair few nice places and one or two more dressy things wouldn't hurt. I'm not prioritising it, but I am lifting my ban temporarily.

This face? Could not explain to you if I tried.

Monday, 8 August 2016

blog update

So! I have moved out of the place I've been living for the past two years, and am currently existing amongst boxes at my boyfriend's flat until our actual new place to live becomes available at the end of the month.

Pictured: chaos. Also our legs. Patrick is wearing extraordinarily pink socks. 

This is not a great set-up for sewing, though I brought several works-in-progress with me (I didn't do nearly as well as I thought I was going to at that) that I might be able to finish during this time, but I'm not counting on it. For this reason I've only scheduled one post per week during August, which I've already photographed so as not to subject you to the Fort of Shit any more than necessary. Incidentally, I'm quite grumpy that I've spent the last six months diligently going through my stuff on a monthly basis and donating multiple bin bags full of stuff to charity, and yet when it comes time to move I still have this stupid amount of stuff. I suspect I'll be doing another clear-out when it comes time to unpack at the new place. "Is this a thing I really want to find a place for in my new Palace of Sophisticated Adultry? No? Then IT MUST GO."

Adultry is a word now. I've decided. 

So that's the deal. Slightly reduced posting schedule, all photos will be in my old garden til the end of the month, and my next few weeks are likely to be quite awkward and squished. On the plus side, I can catch Pokemon from the sofa now. Whoever rolled their eyes and shouted "nerd!" can kindly quiet themselves down. Thank you. 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

PAPMAP part two: Belladone

Part two of PAPMAP and part two of my Deer and Doe haul! So far, it's still going well. Of my initial three patterns this was the one I was least sure about - it's a lovely dress, but I wasn't 100% sure it would be a nice dress on me. However, a combination of having seen several lovely versions of it and knowing it would be an incredibly useful pattern to have pushed me into it.

Having not made a Deer and Doe dress before and so not knowing what their fit is like, I made a toile of the bodice. This is a 42 bodice with a 1 inch FBA (i.e. two inch increase), grading out to a 44 at the waist.

It mostly fits, except the waist darts are too long and there's a bit of excess fabric around the upper chest. Also it could do with being slightly longer in the waist. This was encouraging enough for me to move onto the proper fabric.

This is an Art Gallery fabric I bought from The Splendid Stitch. I'd seen it on the Ray Stitch website in jersey and really wanted it, but it was out of stock, so when I saw the woven version I snapped it up. (Also, cheaper.) The print is a bit loud for my usual style so I wasn't sure what to do with it, but it seemed like a good match for the Belladone, which has nice details but overall is quite a sensible pattern, so I thought they'd balance well together.

This dress didn't give me too much trouble, though I found the back crossover somewhat confusing to sew and did it wrong a couple of times (putting it on confuses the shit out of me every time because I am a bit daft and can't work out what's meant to go where). Also my overlocker decided it had had enough of behaving and tried to eat the dress while I was finishing a seam. GAH. All the edges are finished with bias binding; I had the binding exposed on this version but for any future versions I'll probably sew it inside. There's also a hem facing, which Deer and Doe seem quite fond of, and I don't think it's a bad idea. It certainly made hemming the dress (usually my least favourite thing of all) much less of a pain.

Look at the back! I am so impressed that I did that. 

Since it was a first attempt I didn't change too much except for adding the FBA. I added a bit more fabric to the waist - possibly a smidge too much - and took the darts down a bit from my toile. Once I'd got the dress almost finished I realised the back was gaping, so I put a couple of darts in. This gaping back thing is now basically a universal problem in my woven dresses, and I need to work out what adjustment I have to make to stop that being a thing. Do I need my back pieces to be cut in a smaller size?

My only concern with this dress is that I hate the way it looks with a cardigan over it, and I think that's the neckline. It's just slightly higher than I'm comfortable with. I'd quite like to try lowering it a bit (not a huge amount, just a bit), though I worry that would distort the back. I'll have a go in the autumn, I think.

There are two more Deer and Doe patterns in my immediate future: the Lupin jacket, which actually might work quite well with this dress if I make it in the right colour, and the Centauree, which I have the most ridiculous fabric for and it's all very exciting. I don't understand why I haven't seen much of Deer and Doe on other blogs; I've seen this dress a few times, but otherwise hardly anything. Why? This stuff is amazing. I am excited and eager for more.

Pictured: Eagerness, or something.

Monday, 1 August 2016

OCMPP review

Time for my March and April project review! Spoiler: these were much more successful than the last lot.

1. Bronte

This is okay. I've worn it for work a fair few times and I really like it with this skirt, but I don't think the fabric works as well as it's supposed to. I wouldn't be averse to remaking this, but I would need to find the exact right weight and stretchiness of fabric first.

2. Anna

Complete and total success. This is a really nice summer dress, and the pattern (especially the top) has become my go-to. I've made six Annas or Anna hacks already, and there's at least another two already in the works. 

3. Tulip skirt

Yes, this pattern is that recent. Obviously it's terrible and I hate it. This particular skirt has already been excised from my wardrobe for awkward-waistband reasons, but I have six others in fairly heavy rotation. And I'm not stopping. Sorry.

4. Bodice block top

I've not yet got round to finishing and wearing this one, but I have made another one that I do wear, and a 1920s tie version is in my immediate future as well. 

Best: The tulip skirt and the Anna are two of my all-time favourite patterns and I'm not picking between them
Worst: Bronte
Remake? Not sure about the Bronte, definitely the other three
Biggest problem: I don't have anything to complain about this time. Score!